Archive for June, 2012

Irony disconnect

Friday, 29th June, 2012

Still keeping an eye out for that elusive challenging role on reasonable terms…

Although I am keen to stay in Energy or commodity trading, I have also strayed into applying for bank type roles because of my financial services background.

Its pretty ironic to see their 50 page plus bullshit recruitment bullshit about trustworthiness, and creditworthiness.

Bank trust:

Banks miss-selling complex derivatives.

Banks manipulating LIBOR.

Bank creditworthiness:

UK banks bailout.

Euro banks bailout.

and don’t get me started on ‘must have experience of testing’:

Bank testing.

Probably best if I steer clear of banks really, I would hate to develop some of the traits they seem to reward.

The disconnect between the way some of these banks perceive themselves, versus the way these malpractice investigations demonstrate them to be is, I find, amusingly ironic.







New book shop

Wednesday, 27th June, 2012

I have been a bit underwhelmed by Amazons price competitiveness for a while. Exacerbated by the sweeping 30% price increase on my pending basket a few months ago.

So now I have found a new book supplier (via Amazon ironically)

Its here the Book Depository.

Its not all peaches and cream but it did work out a good few quid cheaper for my last order. Slight scam though if you buy their books via Amazon they are 2.80 cheaper in the basket. But then they hammer you for postage at the end. On their site they are more expensive with ‘free delivery’. Works out about the same I think. It would be nice to get charged postage once, not per book. Especially if like me you have an insatiable book buying (and sometimes reading) habit.

I got paper ones rather than kindle as the thought of trying to make sense of a technical book on a kindle didn’t appeal. That and the fact Mrs Smurf is still happily using her kindle and hasn’t given it to me yet.

I only just ordered so I could well be back on here in a few days ranting about their crap delivery or summat.

Have you got any recommended book shops?

Or are you one of those ‘read it on-line’ types? (I really prefer working through a book to get to grips with new stuff, on-line is great for specifics and reference etc, but I’m not a fan of reading screens and screens of text. And videos make me drowsy!)



Nearly VBA

Tuesday, 26th June, 2012

I saw this security article about a recent infection.

It was an infected AutoCad template used to send a stack load of technical drawings to its creator for supposed industrial espionage reasons.

The technology it used is partly AutoCad scripting (which I thought is/was VBA?), but mainly plain old VBS run by the Windows Scripting Host.

It could so easily have been an Office related template. But then Excel is mainly used for shopping lists, Access for CD collections, and Powerpoint for manager technobabble, so I guess AutoCad probably is a better target.

Have you seen any sign of Office related malware recently? (I had an Excel VBA virus in 1998 or something, took about 10 minutes to disable and delete.)



Bank Jobs

Friday, 22nd June, 2012

Talking, as I have, about jobs in banks it seems rude to ignore this fiasco.

The MBA types are always wondering how far they can cut costs before service deterioration becomes perceptible, I guess they have the answer now at RBS/Natwest.

I do hope they don’t manage to pin it on an errant spreadsheet.

And I presume (as the UK taxpayers bought RBS last time its management bankers drove it into the ground) , that the results of the enquiry into what caused this will be made public?

I could pretend to be shocked, but really I am shocked it doesn’t happen more often. Its probably some VB3 or COBOL component whose source code is long since gone that has barfed at some dodgy input. Or its that Flame cyberwar virus…

Fair play to the front line staff (and the backroom folks)  that are working early, late and Sundays to try and sort things out.

If you have your overdraft with them I hope you are coping.



[edit I was going to have a pop about offshoring, but deleted it, but having read some of the comments it appears some key IT roles only just left the uk for foreign climes. oops]

Getting old

Friday, 22nd June, 2012

Spoke with an agent today – They wanted named referees before they would submit my application to the end client. They wouldn’t tell me who the end client was.

I actually thought about it for a few minutes before it dawned on me it was just a contact fishing trip.

I must be getting old.

Next of all I will be sending my credit card details to Nigeria to help a billionaire dictator escape!

The agent now has a bunch of ‘HR Department’ details.

And I am not holding my breathe for the job offer.



Job situation

Wednesday, 20th June, 2012

(I’m not calling it a job hunt any more as that suggests a level of proactiveness that is lacking)

An agent sent me details for a role yesterday with details of the banking client.

I replied saying last time I looked at them their notice period was silly and unacceptable. His reply:

“I think our notice will be around 0-5 days. We tend to ask for no notice contracts from our contractors.
Is this better for you?”

He phoned today – I asked how it could be worse for me?? they can walk me off anytime, I have to breach the contract to get out. wtf?

The agent said they are now asking all their contractors to sign such contracts. Its their USP !!!

Their USP is that they only recruit contractors prepared to sign up to abusive contracts.Well its not unique because I think that banking client requests it from all agencies. And having contractors go for the same roles through alternative agencies with fairer contracts is not a great commercial selling point.

Hopefully enough of us old lags will tell them to shove it that they will reconsider.

Funny really, it was a spreadsheet control project taking over some big scary financial Excel VBA monsters – exactly what I do, just not for that client or through that agency.

Starting here, now – “campaign for reciprocal notice periods”

Are you with me brothers???


brother smurf

Gaming – Sony PS Vita

Friday, 15th June, 2012

I am not big into computer games, at all.

But my kids are, big time. I have a PSP that I never use, but the kids used it for a while, and they used Nintendo DSs.

But all that is pretty much over now they are moving to iPod Touch’s. (Touches??)

I had thought of the Touch as just an oversize, short battery life, walled garden, dumb, mediocre MP3 player. With a few pointless apps. But I was wrong. They are the must have item for the latest cool kids, and when they have them they use them endlessly.

When DS games cost between a tenner and 30 quid, the choice of tens of thousands of free or 1 quid games (and apps) is utterly compelling.

The irony kills me. Microsoft used to know that getting the developers (games and apps)  onto your platform was fundamental to success. But Apple have done a truly stunning job with their iOS. Talk about mindshare,  I am trying to encourage the kids towards Android, but ALL their mates have Touch’s, why would anyone persecute their child by making them use a notTouch?

Microsoft on the other hand now seem to be doing everything they can to encourage developers off Windows and Office.

None of the kids have asked for a Windows equivalent, if such a thing exists. I think its a whole generation lost to Microsoft, I doubt they will ever make it back. (Actually I’m not even sure my kids have ever used Windows as its Macs at school and Linux at home.)

Incidentally there are 365 Million iOS devices in circulation v 600 million Windows (7) devices  + a few hundred million XP and 3 Vista devices. So iOS, whilst not in the majority, is a pretty big development target market.

I am sure there is still a market for things like the PS Vita, but I doubt very much we will be getting any in our family. The 20-30 quid games market might still be a gooer for a few well off adults, but I think its a target market in rapid decline.

Any of you got a Vita? what do you think? iPod touch? (or iPhone?)



Uganda is not Spain

Thursday, 14th June, 2012

I’m not averse to a bit of dabbling in forex, mainly EURUSD (and GBPCHF). But I am currently keeping out of the market as it is a touch volatile for me. But I still like to keep abreast of developments.

Over last weekend Spain asked to borrow a few quid because its banks debts were too high (slight irony there). We can leave aside the fact that Italy is borrowing at 6% to lend to Spain at 3%, and the fact that Spain is lending to itself through the same fund.

The thing that’s making everyone smirk is the Spanish PM pointing out that Spain is not Uganda. As if that were a good thing.

The obvious retort that Uganda is not Spain is really enlightening. The one with the better credit rating and lower unemployment amongst many other things is the one not in the Euro zone.

In other fx news the Greek bank run is now approaching eur I billion per day prior to this weekends election.

Are you following this euro soap opera?



My kind of system

Wednesday, 13th June, 2012

Saw this and it made me laff

“The software has been developed in-house over the last 18 months, … it is a mature product that has been in production use for approaching 2 years.”

I am a huuge fan of early delivery, but even I have never delivered a system before starting it.

Have you?



VB6 still alive a twitching

Tuesday, 12th June, 2012

I saw this and it made me smile.

I was speaking to someone the other day about some VB6 maintenance.

And the VB 6.0 DDE Server from here is one of the most popular downloads. (Maybe that is just because DDE is so flaky of course).

I think that was the last thing I developed in VB6 about 18 months ago.

Are you still actively using VB6?

Are you just supporting old stuff or writing new?

Has your org lost much VB6 source code? (for still working systems… I knew one place that no longer had the VB source for one of its mission critical systems!)